When planning a luxury getaway in France, it can be challenging to sift through all the options and decide who to entrust your holiday to. Is it savviest to hire the most well-known luxury tour company you’ve heard of, who offers packages and tours in destinations around the world and considered by many to be the “safest bet”? Is joining large guided tours a guarantee of quality, or will the crowded conditions take away too much from the experience, making your holiday standard and predictable rather than extraordinary and full of discovery? Is it best, in the end, to construct your own itinerary and go it alone, guaranteeing you’ll be able to see and do precisely what you most wish to and avoid disappointment? It so happens that there’s another solution: privileging tours by local travel specialists.
In a globalised market where big names in luxury travel operate worldwide, this can seem counterintuitive. But by entrusting your exploration of France to locally based experts and docents, you’ll benefit from their particular on-the ground knowledge, and their dedication to making your experience a truly extraordinary one. These guides will often go the extra mile to show you what makes their particular corner of the world so special, and share their insights and secret corners with you. Here are 5 good reasons why to choose local guides for your next trip, whether you’re planning to visit Paris, Provence, or several of the country’s unique regions. Read on.
While any global travel company can offer tours of destinations around the world, if they don’t operate in the area or work hand-in-hand with local guides and travel specialists, they simply won’t have the intimate knowledge of the country or region that guarantee a truly authentic and in-depth experience. Since genuine cultural encounters, discovery of little-known places and initiation to a country’s best-kept secrets are all part of any high-luxury holiday, local guides are essential.
Without their fine-tuned knowledge and their on-the-ground experience of France and its remarkable regions, your experience is likely to be superficial rather than truly authentic and adventurous. After all, anyone can perform a Google search for the most luxurious palace hotels in Paris or the most prestigious cellars for wine tastings in Bordeaux. Anyone can book a table at a 3-star Michelin restaurant or hire a yacht to explore the Riviera. But without the unique perspectives and know-how of a local guide, your experience of France will remain largely standardised and predictable. When you’re seeking nothing less than extraordinary experiences and exclusive encounters, this sort of holiday just doesn’t cut it. It’s the difference between, for example, joining a large guided tour of wine cellars in Burgundy, attempting to explore them alone, or relying on a local wine specialist who has years of experience touring and tasting in some of the region’s secret, and ultra-prestigious, cellars. Which do you think would give you the most authentic and privileged encounter with Burgundy vintnering culture?
It’s difficult to imagine a truly luxurious experience of France that includes waits in two-hour lines, battling hordes of tourists for a taste of the best regional specialities or a peek at the masterpieces hanging in a renowned Parisian museum. After all, privacy and exclusive encounters are the true markers of high luxury. By working with local guides, who have all the knowledge and experience necessary to arrange private encounters and tours of breathtaking sites, you’ll enjoy the space and quiet to experience France under the best conditions possible.
So whether you dream of tasting local French specialities like cheese, patisseries or fine wines while meeting local artisans, enjoying private tours of the Loire Valley’s most prestigious family-owned chateaux, taking a private cooking class with a celebrated French chef or embarking on an excursion with some of France’s most well-bred hunting dogs, accompanied by their handler, local experts can show you precisely what makes a particular region exceptional. Most importantly, they’ll ensure your entire experience lives up to your own personal definition of luxury, working with you to craft a bespoke tour unlike any other.
One thing that can be said with confidence about French culture: it values local knowledge and expertise enormously, and eschews globalised, generic services and products more than most societies do. While you do see global chains operating in France, there’s incredible support and preference for local artisans; for the unique qualities of a given “terroir” that bestows unique characteristics on products like wine, cheese and olive oil, and an according tendency for cultural experts to form tight local networks of trust.
What does this mean for your upcoming trip to France? Local guides and experts are far more likely than those based outside the country to enjoy privileged contacts with artisans, owners of exclusive wine cellars, little-known but magnificent chateaux and other prestigious venues, or tour operators who only wish to work with a select few they know and trust. As a result, your bespoke adventure is likely to be filled with many surprises: from face-to face encounters with the country’s most talented vintners and chefs to the arrangement of private events and exclusive evenings in family-owned castles or stately country homes. Working with you to craft the luxury itinerary of your dreams, these guides will nevertheless reserve many surprises that are pretty much guaranteed to make your experience truly unforgettable.
While some prefer to entrust their luxury holiday to big-name operators with global brand recognition, local travel experts and guides are more likely to go the extra mile to ensure you get exactly what you’re looking for out of your trip to France. Since they’e based locally, they’re able to be 100% responsive to your needs and feedback, working with you even as your trip unfolds to make it truly special and anticipating any problems. What sounds like a better scenario: calling a distant customer service rep to complain of something going awry during your trip, or having someone entirely at your disposal in the area you’re visiting who can respond to even your most special requests and demands? The personalised, concierge-style service offered by local experts comes in part from sharing the same space with you, rather than being a distant voice on a telephone helpline. Since their reputations hinge entirely on offering excellent service in your desired destination, they’re all but guaranteed to go the extra mile for you. Ultra-luxury travel demands nothing less, after all.
This last point is related to the previous one, but it’s important enough to deserve its own place in our list. Sometimes, midway through a trip, you realise that the initially agreed-upon itinerary no longer meets your needs or desires. When you opt for tours and itineraries led by locals, you’re far more likely to benefit from their ability to tweak your programme along the way. Local guides have the logistical know-how and privileged relationships with partners to adjust travel arrangements as required. Perhaps you started out wishing to begin your trip in Paris before heading south to the Cote d’Azur, but decide mid-week that you’d like to take two days in the Rhone Valley for wine tastings and to discover the gastronomic and cultural riches of Lyon. Your local guide can make this happen far more easily than a distantly based company who has to renegotiate with partners from afar, or find new ones in a flash to meet their client’s demands. For local experts, reactivity and adaptability are simply part of the job description.
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Convinced that a tour of France led exclusively by local experts is for you? If so, get in touch with us now. Our specialised team of local travel guides and docents, rich with the knowledge and experience of numerous regions around France, will share their secrets and expertise with you. The result? A holiday that can’t be compared to anyone else’s: one that’s genuinely bespoke and all your own.
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